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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vertigo Contest

Alfred Hitchcock Presents The Waxwork

A writer must spend a night in a wax museum’s murderer’s gallery to make good a gambling debt knowingly paid with a bad check to a testy Englishman. The museum’s owner is so obsessed with the accuracy of his replicas, he’s as scary as they are. Especially to a US magazine writer who’s already facing deportation or a stretch in a London gaol.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents also known as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour aired on television (1955-1965) on NBC and CBS and was viewed in black and white. As a young and impressionable child, the 30 minute broadcast chilled me to the bone.

They say pictures paint a thousand words because of the unforgettable impression they sketch. The beginning of each episode painted a very vivid picture in my mind. It began with the camera fading in on a simple line drawing caricature of Hitchcock’s rotund profile. As the program’s theme music
Charles Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette played, Hitchcock appeared in silhouette from the right edge of the screen, and then walked to center screen to eclipse the caricature.

Hitchcock nearly always began the show with a chilling “Good Evening.” Can you hear it? Can you see it? Does it take you right back? Do you have goose bumps? Even though I was quite young when The Waxwork aired, the figures terrorizing the man locked in the museum left an indelible impression on my memory.

Other than imagery, auditory hallucinations sketch pictures in our heads. Music sets the scene. Think about a scary movie. Right before a murder or something dangerous, the chilling music clues us in and has our hearts racing. When I wrote Her Biggest Fan, a romantic suspense set in stormy New England, I chose Moonlight Sonata to haunt the reader. As you read, you’ll swear you can hear the eerie spiking of piano keys because I have planted them in your head.

Visualizing the wax figures in Hitchcock’s thriller, I created wax gargoyles with wings as props in the ballroom.

Here’s a little teaser. Do you sense the danger? Feel the music crawl beneath your skin?

Tess stood at the entrance, polarized. Goose bumps prickled her flesh. When the icy instrumental of Moonlight Sonata started all over again, she took a step back and gasped. Peering into the massive hall, she stared in disbelief.
On either side of the mahogany bar, standing candelabras gleamed, long white tapers flickering in the dark. Open terrace doors banged in the wind, bringing in the pouring rain. The air carried the mingled scent of jasmine and stale tobacco. Pleated silk drapes billowed out like wings.
Rain puddled the cherry wood floor that once sparkled beneath the mirrored ceiling and crystal chandelier. The ghostly sound of piano keys escalated as Moonlight Sonata played on the old Victrola. And in the center of the room, looking for all the world like guests of honor at a grand masquerade, two wax gargoyles danced cheek to cheek, costumed in feather masks as bizarre as the setting.

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ISBN: 1-60154-813-3

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A few months ago, I held an Alfred Hitchcock contest, asking the following questions

What's your favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie of all times?
Which actress in today's Hollywood do you picture playing the role of the perfect femme fatale?
Who do you see playing the role of Tess?

Witchy Woman won and here’s what she had to say.

"It's so hard to pick a favorite, as I'm a huge Hitchcock fan, but I'll have to go with Psycho; besides all the wonderful reasons that people list (and they're all true!), it was the first Hitchcock movie that I ever saw.....and you always have a special place in your heart for your first....:)

Angelina Jolie would do a great job, I think....she's more than proved that she isn't
just another pretty face...."

I see Tess as having a Claire Danes kind of face, if that makes sense....

Congratulations, WW!


Considered the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock made 53 films in his 54 year career. For a chance to win a Vertigo Collector’s Edition DVD, try your luck on the trivia quiz. In honor of The Master’s birthday, winner will be announced on August 13th. Good luck!

1. Name all three films that Grace Kelly starred in
2. What was the name of Hitchcock’s first American made film?
3. In which of Hitchcock’s famed cameo appearance does he wear a cowboy hat?
4. What year was The Birds produced?
5. Which model made her debut in The Birds?
6. Who starred in Dial M for Murder, both the male and female leading roles?
7. Name Hitchcock’s first color film
8. Who played in Torn Curtain?
9. Who played Marion Crane in the 1960 original Psycho?
10. How many films did Jimmy Stewart star in?
11. What color did Kim Novak object to wear in Vertigo?
12. What was the name of the restaurant that Scotti first sees Madeline in Vertigo?

Please send answers to
and put Hitch trivia in subject line


Sharon Donovan said...

Good Evening. I adore the movie Vertigo, so surreal. Gotta be my all time fav.

Hywela Lyn said...

Wow, what an intereting post and a fascinating contest, Sharon, dear friend.

I love the film 'Vertigo' too.

I agree about music being so evocative in films and books, and as you know, I loved 'Her Biggest Fan', but then I love all your books! :)

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks so much Lyn dear friend for your kind words and for adding such fabulous photos to this post. You are awesome.

Sandra Koehler said...

Alfred Hitchcock is my all-time favorite. My favorite movie is "North by Northwest." I have all of them on DVD and watch them often. Thanks for posting!

Alison Chambers

P.L. Parker said...

I loved Alfred Hitchcock. One of my favorites was Marnie (I believe was a Hitchcock film). Anyway, I am old enough to remember the TV series and it just gave me the chillies when I was little.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Allison, I'm impressed that you have all the old time favorites on DVD. That would be quite a collection indeed.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Patsy, chillies is a good way to describe the old black and white television show. I personally think it added to the aura of suspense.

Laurean Brooks said...

Gosh, Sharon! I saw "The Birds," "Vertigo," "Rear Window," (which starred Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart), "North By Northwest" with Cary Grant, "The Car" (can't remember who starred in this horror movie about a car who runs people down and runs over them). This one terrified my 10-year-old niece.

I can't think of the others. I think Kim Novak was the model star. Not sure.

I've just found Retro TV and loving it. Alfred Hitchcock comes on at 11 p.m. Central time right after "Daniel Boone." (Swooning over Fess Parker, LOL)

Anyone who answers all these terrific questions correctly is a whiz. Can't wait to see who does.

BTW, "Her Biggest Fan" is a sure cure for boredom and sleep. Who could sleep when every creak might be a killer creeping through her house? LOL.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Laurie, sweet friend. Thanks for the chilling kudos for Her Biggest Fan. Oooo now I must go check out the Retro channel. The Birds affected me more than Psycho, I think because my Aunt Dottie had a roomful of big black myna birds that scared me to death. They were seriously creepy.

Lynne Marshall said...

Great excerpt and thanks for the memories!

I hate to admit I remember his show as a kid, too. It scared me in an eerie way.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Lynne, eerie is a great word for evoking the chilling images the master sketched in our heads